Student Dictionary

One entry found for emperor.
Main Entry: em·per·or
Pronunciation: primarystressem-pschwar-schwar, -prschwar
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English emperour "emperor," from early French emperur (same meaning), from Latin imperator "commander" (title assumed by Caesar Augustus), from imperare "to command"
: the ruler of an empire
Word History The word emperor is a general word for a ruler having total control of a country or region. There are similar words for such all-powerful rulers in various countries: the Caesars in ancient Rome, the czars in Russia, the kaisers in Germany. All these terms go back to one source: the first of the emperors of the Roman lands, known as Imperator Caesar Augustus. Augustus (whose name was really a title, meaning "majesty") was the adopted son of the great Roman general and ruler Julius Caesar. Augustus took the family name Caesar as part of his official name. Later emperors of Rome also used the name Caesar to show that they were heirs to the throne. This is how the word Caesar came to be used to mean "an emperor of Rome." The word Caesar was spelled kaisar and later kaiser in the Germanic languages of Europe. It is from this word that we got our English word kaiser for "a ruler in Germany." Through the Russian word tsar', which also came from the Germanic word kaiser, we got our English word czar, meaning "a ruler in Russia." Use of the word emperor itself can also be traced back to Imperator Caesar Augustus. The Latin word imperator was originally a title given to great Roman generals. The word meant "commander," and it was derived from the verb imperare "to command." It is because Augustus, the first Roman emperor, used imperator as a title that we use emperor as we do today.

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